tv Washington Week PBS November 12, 2011 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
>> rick perry's oops moment. herman cain on the defensive but pushing back and what europe's debt problems could mean for this nation. i'm pete williams in for gwen ifill tonight, all that tonight on "washington week." republicans gather for another debate with a moment to remember -- >> the third agency of government, i would do away with the education, the commerce and let's see i can't, the third one i can't. oops. >> how rick perry is trying to turn around his onstage brain freeze. while herman cain defends another sexual impropriety. >> he puts his hand under his legs under my skirt. >> i have never acted
inappropriately with anyone, period. >> are the allegations against cain affecting his white house bid? and will leadership changes in two troubled european nations help calm the european storm helping to affect the u.s.? john harwood of cnbc, michael duffy of "time" magazine, karen tumulty of "the washington post" and greg ip of "the economist." >> live from our nation's capital, this is "washington week with gwen ifill," produced in association with national journal. corporate funding for "week week" is provided by -- >> this rock has never stood still. since 1875, we've been there for
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funding is provided by the annenburg foundation, the coorps of public broadcasting and from contributions from pbs viewers like you. here again, live from washington subting for gwen eifel pete williams of nbc news. >> good evening, it's probably not a good sign when the reviews of your debate performance focus on your brain's prefrontal cortex but that's how it went for governor rick perry during a debate in michigan. he fumbled for nearly a full minute trying to remember the third cabinet department that he would eliminate if he were elected president. >> it's commerce, education and the -- what's the third one there? let's see. immediately afterward he was clearly mortified. yeah, i stepped in it, man.
yeah, it was embarrassing. and then he promptly flew to new york to david letterman. >> what was going through your mind when this happened? >> first of all, i was happy because for most of the debate the candidates had made a very strategic decision not to engage with one another. you're hoping to provide something interesting. we thought we had good questions but they were not engaging with one another. they were giving their typical answers. it was interesting on policy level but for viewership, not so sure. there was also a moment of ambiguity because when he failed to get the third item initially, he started chuckling. alot of people were laughing. i chuckled a little bit. but then it was obvious that he really couldn't get it. mitt romney over on the side of the stage called out e.p.a. and
perry repeated it. and i wasn't sure whether that ended the matter. >> i said is e.p.a. what you're talking about. he said no. and then i said well, what was it? he couldn't remember it. it was mind-blowing. i've never seen anything like that in a debate. i guess none of us have. you at least have something that the viewers would remember. >> to say the least. many people have an experience where you can't remember do you think people are making too much of this? >> i don't know if they're making too much of it. it was because it is a human moment, it sort of has universal appeal and everybody gets a little guilty pleasure out of watching somebody? a high profile decision. politicians struggle with that like you it's happened to me on television. before the show's over it may happen to me. rick perry, laboring under the
presumption of proving that he could compete on a national stage. he entered the race, went to the top of the polls, raised a lot of money, performed poorly in debates. we started seeing his polls go down. he got very aggressive after some sort of sleep walking debate performances early. went after romney hard in the last debate here he took a little bit of a different tack and he's going to have a hard time digging out of this. >> but john, he's still siting on something like $15 million, apparently, $1 million of which is going to be spent on fox news in the very near future. is he done? >> i would be very reluctant to say that he's done if they've got $15 million. along with mitt romney he's the only person that has resources that way. he has the phonetial when he starts running positive ads about himself which is what he's been doing in iowa but going after mitt romney and build
himself up. his problem, though is that his poll numbers have gotten so low. you look at iowa, new hampshire, south carolina. south carolina ought to be his base. he was in single digits and that just tells you that his problems are going to deepen. >> john, how did the other candidates react? think i it's interesting that romney's first reaction is to try to help the guy out. you think about it, this was a beautiful gift to romney and the others. are they, in fact, treating it as snutch are they exploiting it? >> well, mitt romney has been very level. his campaigned has been run flaw lesley. on the other hand they can't make anybody love him. so the self-destruction of his rivals is a good thing. it was a gift to herman cain because herman cain expected to be the center of attention because of his sexual allegations. he got booed because of that. but that story was completely
supplanted by rick perry. and ron paul, his fellow texan cracked a joke and he said you've got three departments and i've got five. he held up his hand. i think everybody did have some sympathy for him. michele bachmann said we didn't like anybody struggling like that but the truth is that's what debates are about seeing how somebody is under pressure and unfortunately for rick perry it wasn't a pretty picture. >> perry's not performed well not as bad as he did this week. there was talk that he might not debate again. are we hearing that possibility again that he will just cease to kind of -- >> i think it would be very tough for him not to show up in south carolina for the cbs national journal debate. i do think he'll be selective coming out of that. the foreign policy debate which is the subject of saturday night's discussion is going to be challenging for him. it's not home turf for rick
perry or herman cain either. so i think he needs to show up and show that gags and jokes on letterman are not his only tool in his tool kit for getting out of this thing. >> well, one thing about this debate herman cain was relieved to be asked about the economy this week but he could not escape questions about sexual harassment and indiscreppings during his time in charge of the national restaurant association. his latest accuser claims she asked him for help finding work after she lost her job with the restaurant's association foundation. when they met to talk about it, she said, he made sexual advances. >> i was very, very surprised and very shocked. >> i said what are you doing? you know i have a boyfriend. this isn't what i came here for. mr. cain said, you want a job, right? >> cain categorically denied this allegation appearing with
jimmy kimmel and in most forceful terms at a news conference of his own the next day. >> the fact is these anonymous allegations are false and now the democrat machine in america has brought forth a troubled woman to make false accusations, statements, many of which exceed common sense. and they certainly exceed the standards of decency in america. >> so michael duffy what has this done to his support? >> it hasn't helped it. and there is some evidence that cain is beginning to fall back to the ground in some polls. there were two released today both of which suggest that he has suffered some damage. not a lot, five to eight points but particularly more among women than men. more to me the interesting question is whether he's lost
some ground because it's clear that he has and almost obvious that he would but why hasn't he lost more? there are two reasons -- one, that he started from a remarkably strong place. the perry campaign was out in iowa two weeks ago testing their own problems and discovered that perry -- i'm sorry that cain had astonishing favorability. people like his story. he wasn't part of the political process. when you start at that base you can lose 30 or 40 points and you're still ok. the second thing is how he fought back. he didn't go on the offense. he attacked the democrat, his fellow campaigners, he attacked the women who were accusing him. part of his campaign this week was really sort of anti-party, anti-establishment, anti-media and by the end of the week he was anti-tork bar. and he's turned this moment to
some extent as an invitation to people who might be angry at the country and the rest of the world to cast their lot with him and join the pro-stest. >> is it soaking in or have most people made up their mind about it or are any further allegations going to make a difference? >> 60% of all republicans thought that these allegations made no difference at all and wouldn't affect their feelings about him which is fairly high given the attention' he's gotten. 70% of people who vote in republican primaries said we don't want you to get out. >> the other surprising figure in the poll today was the re-emergence of newt gingrich who a lot of people left for dead in june. i was out a couple of weeks ago and was surprised to see 400 people show up at a chick fill a. is this real?
>> i think there is movement in these polls for romney. newt was talking to people in the last week and said i think my moment's coming. that's partly because everyone else has had their moment and faded. he is the only one left. he's making a bigger push in iowa. he knows he has different challenges. he has tended so far in these debates to do narrow attacking usually on issues that aren't that central to the race. and he also knows he has a habit history, you know better than anyone, of doing well for a few weeks and flaming out. so he faces a challenge to seize this moment and not blow it. >> well, the other challenge it seems to me is that both with cain and gingrich, you have some candidates who have significant support in the polls more for cain than for gingrich but essentially no campaign infrastructure. how do cow capitalize on public? or is this notion that in this
age of social ned working they can get people out without infrastructure? >> cain's ground game is little to nonexistent and his political campaign -- stance is nonexistent. he's able to raise $1 million. there are places where he's not even on the ballot and unlikely to get on the ballot. it is kind of a little bit of a puzzle that way. able to generate a lot of interest sort of in the blog sphere but not niesely. >> you were mentioning, among the people he lashed back were his accusers. it's interesting to see him, his proxies and spokesman going after these women, raising questions about their backgrounds. how well is this working? what happens next with respect to his popularity especially among women voters? >> i think they made a decision this week that they had to go on
the offense or if they didn't it might be by the door. that's a risky strategy. we'll see if it works in the long run. >> election 2012 is about a year away. and while the pollsters studies what's on the electorates mind, some were telling us. voters soundly defeated a conservative attempt to define a fertilized egg as a legally protective person that would outlow it as abortion. in virginia which barack obama won in 2008, the state senat switched control giving republicans the upper hand in the legislature and the governor's mansion. and in ohio voter overturned the law that had taken collective bargaining rights from public service union workers. that law had been promoted by john in the initiative's defeat. >> it's clear that t the people have smokeen.
and you know, my view su when people speak in a campaign like this in a referendum, you have to listen when you're a public servant. >> so the governor says that the public servants were listening. what were the messages? >> i think what the public was saying this is a time when they're deeply concerned. but they're not ready for the kind of overreach that we've been seeing in some parts of the country which is what i think they thought the measures to end collective bargaining for public employees in ohio were and the same is true with the abortion initiative in mississippi. but the fact is we are one year out from this election. it is probably the most difficult electoral terrain a presidential candidate has faced in this generation. the country in our polling at "the washington post" but elsewhere the country is deeply
pessimistic, deeply polarized and increasingly has misgivings about barack obama and his leadership. >> one of the thing i've noted is that the voter turnout was strong. i guess the highest urnout in ohio. is that enthusiasm going to carry into next year? >> that's a very good question because elsewhere you saw for instance in virginia that it was actually very low. it was actually somewhere below 30%. and the real question is doing to be who the electorate next year is because barack obama's biggest hope is that he can re-energize his base that he can bring out some of these electorates that don't normally vote in high numbers including minorities and young people. >> one of the ways that the obama team wants to energize their base is by scaring voters about plunges going too far on the right on social issues. for that reason were democrats disappointed that the mississippi initiative went down to deprive them of a boogy man what they can use to try to
rally suburban women in other states an say hey, look at what republicans will give you if they get in charge? >> probably to some depg you want to look at three dimensional political chess. this coming year is going to be incredibly negative because the democrats are saying, you know, that this will not be a referendum, it will be a choice. the way you turn an election into a choice is you demonize your opponent and make your opponent unacceptable. >> the republicans suffered a defeat on that public employment vote. does that mean it will translate into an advantage for the democrats in 2012? or is that not automatic? >> there was something else on the ohio ballot and it was largely symbolic that would turn backing the individual man date that is sort of the lynch pen of the president's health care bill. so it does suggests that -- again, the public was saying that they were overreaching,
that they were not ready to embrace the obama agenda. >> one of obama's election strategy is to take the purple state and strengthen the grip on them. one of them is virginia. now as a result of the election, virginia is republican. what message can we take? >> quite frankly the democrats were relieved in virginia that it wasn't worse. at least the state senat is tied and the lieutenant governor breaks the vote and they do believe they protected some democratic incouple be -- incumbents who were in great danger. but a number of incumbents were running away from barack obama and trying to embrace the republican governor. >> while this country considers a new leadership, europe is hoping that new leadership will
help them. italy's colorful prime minister silvio berlusconi stepped down. back home the u.s. treasury made it clear this week that the obama administration is not offering any lifelines. >> it's already having an affect on growth around the world. european leaders have the ability to contain this. they have the ability to be on top of this. they have the ability to solve this problem. they just need a little bit more quickly to do it. >> your message to europe is good luck? >> i would say god speed. we are really pulling for you but there's not a lot we can do. europe's problem is not a lack of money, it's a lack of political will. it's political will on the part of the weak country like italy and greece to do the tough reform and the austerity they
need to restore the confidence of the markets and then the political will on the part of the countries and the european central bank to reward them and lend them in the event they get cut off from the market. both greece and italy demonstrated they have their necessarily political will. in both countries you had an unpopular government basically hand over government do a coalition of both sides run by technocrats. what it's missing is the off-setting signal from the european central bank, they are willing to lend as much money as needed to keep those guys in the mark and not cut off. >> this may be an area where we have bipartisan agreement because the clip that we just played from tim geithner saying europe has the ability to solve this problem is what mitt romney said at our republican debate. are they saying that because, in fact, it is true? or are they saying it because of
the scope of the problem and the potential consequencings are so big that nobody wants to touch it? >> both could be true. herman cain's response is 9-9-9. i thought that was an interesting response. the americans can do two things. behind the scenes they have tried to buck up the strength of the germans and the strength to leverage their bailout fund, get more bang for their buck. on the other side they tried to shoot down some pressure to expand the i.m.f. and have their do their lending. the americans says, you don't need the i.m.f. and we're not going to let you use the i.m.f. as an excuse to do what you have to do. u.s. banks don't own a lot of italian and greek debt but european banks do. >> domino effect. if italy goes down, then your banks go down and very quickly our banks will go in trouble.
>> there was a brief technocratic moment on monday when senate republicans suggested i think for the first time in 10 or 15 years maybe longer that they might be willing to consider taxes as par of a supercommittee. but just the mere fact that they were throg use the t-word -- it may have come and gone. but the question is -- are you suggesting that if we're lucky we might get to the technocratic will of the greeks and the italians? >> the lucky this if we don't we probably won't call the i.m.f. the long dynamic is democrats won't cut entitlements. so when pat toomey put taxes on the table, one democrat said breakthrough. maybe not because it came with a poins pill. we'll give you your taxes but
all the push tax cuts are not just permanent, we're going to lower the top rate. i think the question is -- is this a good-faith offer or is this a negotiating stratsji so when the talks fall apart they can blame the democrats. >> does it appear that the worst is behind europe. who's next? >> i don't think the worst is behind europe. next week will be very important. we'll see if the markets are satisfied with what greece has done. silvio berlusconi hasn't left yet. he has to give up power p. and we have to see whether they will keep them afloat. >> what a week. be sure to check out our "washington week" web cast extra any time after 11:00. and gwen will be back next week. in the meantime, a special thank you to america's veterans. i'm pete williams. good night.
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